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Came across this article in the USA Today (not today) about some more changes at Monday Night Football. Gag me with a weighted yellow flag. Among the garbage:

--In the 36th and presumably final season of Monday Night Football on ABC, Singer Tim McGraw's song I Like It, I Love It, will have lyrics each week so they'll specifically match highlights shown at halftime. McGraw, who's sold more than 25 million albums, expects a novel experience: "It's funny, you get so used to singing a song one way, then you have to fit in 'Urlacher.' "

Is that supposed to draw viewers? Fans? Women in the 25-54 age demo? "Honey...get in here...they're doing the Tim McGraw thing." Oh for the days of Howard Cosell and the pulsating theme music behind his unmatched descriptions of the highlights.

--Jimmy Kimmel will be doing :60 halftime monologues.

File this under "Blatant Synergy and Hackish Promotion". The monologue will be :60 and here's guessing another :30 will be used to tell you who will be on his show later that night.

--MNF also will try to reduce the size and frequency of on-air graphics, producer Fred Gaudelli says, to let viewers see more of the game: "We'd taken the screen hostage. Now we're giving it back."

Well that depends. If you are doing stupid animations that show a player's career spanning across a map (picture his little face in a plane with cutsie sound effects) then yes, give me the screen back. But if you have something to add to my enjoyment, understanding or knowledge of the game and its players, show it. Focus on content and not the creative. I'm reluctant to have them take the screen back if it means more Michaels and Madden. During the Hall of Fame game on Monday, they couldn't think of any great Bears RBs "other than Walter Payton". Pathetic. I'll take Patrick, McGuire and Theismann any day over those 2.

--For East Coast viewers needing enticements to stay tuned, there'll be a "Guess Who's Coming to Monday Night?" segment in the third quarter. The surprise guests, Gaudelli says, could be an NFL figure or a "major, major sports figure coming off a big weekend. ... In today's day and age, you have to stay current or you're not relevant."

I suppose we can blame the Cubs for this. Do you think there will be a time that a crucial 3rd down play is about to be run and these guys will be asking Jim Belushi about what it's like to work with Courtney Thorne-Smith? How in the world did we let so much pop culture infiltrate sports?

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